Narrative by Dr. Peter Huang
“I have all the material things I could ask for, but the meaning of life is not in material things. I returned to Taiwan to buy a soul,” Dr. Peter Huang, director of the Mennonite Christian Hospital (MCH) in Taiwan once said.
Dr. Peter Huang was a well-known authority on neurosurgery in the United States, a guest of the White House, and once served as the personal physician of President Reagan. He was considered a doctor among doctors; he served 5000 patients and completed 360 surgeries a year. His yearly salary exceeded one million dollars, and his estate rested on four acres of land.
In 1990 when the previous MCH hospital director Dr. Roland Brown retired and returned to the United States, he had already been dedicated to service in Hualien with its poor transportation and underdeveloped medicine for 40 years. Dr. Peter Huang held this kind of selfless disposition in high esteem.
In 1991, when Dr. Brown received the Taiwan Dedication Award from the Taiwan American Foundation in Los Angeles, he said, “I have dedicated my life to Taiwan. I look forward to seeing Taiwanese, especially Taiwanese doctors serving their fellow people as I have – especially the weak and helpless common people in Hualien. It’s such a shame! Taiwanese doctors seem to think it’s closer to go to the U.S. than to go to Hualien; nobody wants to go to Hualien, yet so many run off to the U.S.”
These words led Dr. Peter Huang to give up everything in the U.S. and move to Hualien.
When he left the U.S. a total of 400 people from political and medical spheres came to see him off – even the state governor and speaker of congress came – he would be that missed by the local people. He said that there were even more patients waiting in Hualien, a place entrusted on him by God. In November 1993, Dr. Peter Huang took over the office of hospital president from Dr. Roland Brown, and continues to serve the people of the East Coast of Taiwan to this day.
He insists upon driving by himself – even when going on medical visits in remote mountain areas, he still drives his jeep for two or three hours from coast to mountain top. Seeing the pains he goes to, the Board of Directors of MCH has tried to commission a driver for Dr. Huang, but he always refuses.
He said, “MCH runs off of support from society – if I can get a driver and a good car, then we shouldn’t be asking for donations.”
Dr. Peter Huang treats every patient with patience and care, spending 30-40 minutes on each visit.
Those who know him worry whether his body can withstand the physical exertion; with a persistent smile, this 70-year-old doctor always responds, “It’s no problem, I am healthy!”
The monthly salary of the MCH president is 300,000 NTD, less than that of most hospital directors, and not even a tenth of what he made in the U.S. Yet he still donates 20,000 back to the hospital and lives a simple life in the employee’s dormitory.
That which most can never attain he has achieved; and that which most can never let go he has given up.
As Dr. Peter Huang said, “I have a big house and a good car. I have all the material things I could ask for, but the meaning of life is not in material things. I returned to Taiwan to buy a soul,”
Source: 晚風習習木長青, a book by Grace Publishers, Oct 2013
Postscript: I spent a total of 22 years in Hualien, from 54 to 75 years of age. Timewise, it is expensive to buy a soul of your own, yet it is all worth it for myself. Thank you again.
Translated from: 234. 我是回臺灣買靈魂的！/黃勝雄/2015/04 by Sky Ford